App Support Contract: Benefits and Costs

After several years of experience in app development, we can claim with some justification that apps basically need support. At most these are "dead" apps that nobody uses anymore. But as long as an app is retrieved from the stores and used, it needs a care and must be further developed. It occasionally gets new features and also has basic support needs that need to be covered. This can be realized with a support contract.

How is the Mobile App Support financially secured?



The customer typically pays a monthly fee for the support contract. This "insures" him in terms of support needs. Incidentally, such contracts are not only available for apps, but also for websites (especially important: online shops). The lump sum covers certain support services whose scope is defined by the amount of the payment. Customers choose a specific amount depending on their project. There are very different requirements for different apps. As with insurance, there is never a regular (possibly monthly) need. Rather, customers only make use of the offer in the event of problems or when further developments are indispensable. These result, for example, from general developments of the operating systems iOS and Android. Certain requirements are often two to three times a year, with some apps also much more often.

How Expensive Can This Support Become A Mobile App?



The price of such support contracts for apps depends on various factors. For example, Groenewold - new media proposes the original budget for the app project as a relatively solid basis. If this should have been around 50.000 Euro, the monthly support costs according to the formula

  • 50.000 x (10 to 15%): 12

to calculate. The range for the monthly support costs in this case would be between 416 and 625 Euro. The approach of choosing between 10 and 15% as an annual support budget factor is related to the different complexity of apps. It would then be a matter of negotiation, when setting up a support contract, to adequately assess this complexity. Basically, the higher the original project costs have been, the more support costs are to be taken into account. Another factor is the number of app users. The bigger this is, the more complaints, problems with server capacities, user errors or complex test cases will be there. An app for the public undoubtedly needs more support than one that is only used in-house in a company or by a manageable interest group. For many users, there are also many support requests, which are correspondingly more complex to edit. This increases the cost of mobile app support. Last but not least, customers can opt for pure basic support or an all-inclusive solution. In the latter case, the support company can, for example, also take over the customer service, the customers contact the same company. Thus, the app developer would be relieved of such requests completely, but they can not control and therefore knows little about the practical success of the app. This may be a reason why some development companies are more likely to opt for the lower-priced, purely technical base support. However, the support company must also be able to afford the more comprehensive all-inclusive support with regard to its personnel capacities - for example by filling a customer hotline and / or chatting with competent technicians. With the purely technical basic support the technicians fix only the bugs and look at the app occasionally because of possible further developments. There are other factors that can affect the support price. This can therefore be calculated individually.

Why is this support so important?



Every mobile app is outdated. A source code that 2014 was still ultra-modern, 2019 looks antiquated. In addition, the app is also "worn": SDKs and libraries are renewed and sometimes turned off. That can paralyze the app in the worst case. The most important tasks of an app support are typically:

  • Platform Updates: The two main app operating systems, Android and iOS (the apps platforms), are constantly evolving. Larger updates are available at least once a year. Then every app has to be checked for its general function and possible need for adjustment. This may be functional or design-related. For the corresponding check, it is sufficient if a technician opens the app project after the update in the renewed environment and checks for so-called errors and warnings - in a timely manner, before the error message comes from a user. The app now has to be tested purely functional, but also in terms of its design.
  • New developments in the devices: There are constantly new Apple and Android devices with new screen resolutions. The interface of apps needs to be adapted to these.
  • Renewal of SDKs and Libraries: Rarely does an app evolve in isolation from other software. As a rule, it already uses various ready-made libraries or accesses software development kits from alternative platforms. Typical examples of this would be, for example, the payment via PayPal or the Facebook login functionality. Such SDKs and libraries are constantly updated, sometimes they are completely turned off. Then the Facebook login might not work anymore. The support team keeps the libraries and SDKs up-to-date and replaces them as needed.
  • Bug fixing: A good development contract for an app guarantees one-year bug freedom. The developers fix so within this first year all discovered bugs for free. If there are more errors after that, the app support contract will now apply.
  • Design adjustments and small functional updates: Apps need further development. There are big updates and small adjustments. Separate projects are required for major adjustments, but the smaller ones can be realized as part of the support contract. For example, it's a new logo, new text, visual changes, and small feature adjustments. Specialized service providers do this if the customer does not have a support contract. Billing will then be carried out on a regular basis at a fixed hourly rate. This inhibits the customers to make such (necessary) changes. This is a phenomenon similar to the fear of the doctor, if each investigation costs extra money. But if you have a support contract with a monthly fee, you will have the changes made.
  • Running the app: While an app is running, its users often report bugs that are not. Rather, the app was served out of lack of understanding out wrong. With complaints to the mail account, the server or other services, the error may lie with a third party. Determining this costs effort that is included in a support contract.

Mobile App Support: general benefit



It is well known how much good customer service increases satisfaction. That's why virtually all sectors offer it, because 81% of all consumers rate a company so much for its service that they keep buying it there. However, it can be said that in the area of ​​the mobile app - which dominates the digital revolution - support has so far been underdeveloped. This has a precarious impact on the use (and therefore the success) of the most popular iOS and Android apps. In numbers:

  • For apps, 52% of all users tend to delete or forget the app. That's one reason why some apps are "dead" after a while. These users have found no evidence of customer support - mostly because they did not exist.
  • 33% of users are looking for help with customer support because they can see it immediately.
  • 11% of all users search online for help elsewhere. This can also be in the form of FAQs.

It is recommended in every app an immediately visible and always ready to use help desk. The market leaders (WhatsApp & Co.) make it happen, there are both the FAQs as well as an online support with two fingertips available. This increases the appeal to the apps, customer satisfaction, the number of positive reviews and customer loyalty. For paid apps or those that redirect to paid services, it increases revenue. For the best possible customer service, users should recognize a very simple support contact in the app. Online chat is the means of choice, it can be realized through an in-app messaging tool (such as live chat). If they can contact customer service immediately, they will not even think of dropping their frustration in the form of a bad rating. FAQs are a must and they must give priority to answering the most frequently asked customer questions. This priority may change over time. Then the FAQs have to be adjusted as well (at least the order of the questions). A knowledge database - so far only rarely found for software products - is obviously very desirable: 91% of all consumers would use it, if they existed. There, of course, the articles must be very easily searchable. Offline help can also be important. Some customers want to call and / or are temporarily offline. A support contract can fully integrate customer support for the app's end users. He can thus be decisive for the general success or failure of an app.

Summary

The development of an app costs only once money, but the ongoing operation is not free to have. This is well known from other industries: Even a car or a house needs maintenance. The special feature of a support contract for apps is that the element of an "insurance" is included in it. For a monthly fee, the support service provider will take care of some ongoing maintenance, adjustments and updates, but otherwise he only intervenes when the help is needed. Good service providers are mostly app developers themselves, they offer the app support for their own, but also for third-party apps. This can be a bit more involved because in the foreign projects finally bugs are to be fixed, which remained so far undetected, while one was prepared for the own (possible) mistakes. External projects therefore require a certain training period.

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